Sri. Kiran P v. The Commissioner, Bengaluru Development Authority W.A.No.8/2020 (S – RES)-The receipt of financial benefits due to the death of an employee is not a bar to seeking compassionate appointment for dependents, according to the Karnataka High Court.
DATE OF JUDGMENT:
Hon’ble Mrs. Justice B.V. Nagarathna & Hon’ble Mr. Justice N.S. Sanjay Gowda
Sri. Kiran P(Petitioner)
The Commissioner, Bengaluru Development Authority(Respondent)
The court dismissed the Single Judge's argument that the appellant's family had received a considerable sum of money as terminal benefits and were thus not in financial distress. The receipt of any terminal benefits cannot and should not be used as a criterion for excluding a dependent family member from seeking compassionate appointment.
- Prakash, the father of the writ petitioner/Sri Kiran, was fired from the BDA on February 24, 2003, while working as a Second Division Clerk. Prakash filed a labour complaint, which was taken to the Labour Court. On the basis of the evidence presented, the Labour Court accepted the reference, set aside the dismissal decision dated February 24, 2003, and ordered the BDA to reinstate Prakash to his old position within one month of the award becoming enforceable.
- The Labour Court also awarded full backpay from the date of dismissal till reinstatement, as well as continued employment with all perks that come with it. On September 4, 2013, the Labour Court issued its decision. Prakash, on the other hand, died on March 18, 2014. The BDA accepted the Labour Court's decision and did not appeal it. Following Prakash's death on October 20, 2014, the State notified him of the award in his favour.
- The petitioner filed a representation on 19.07.2014, shortly after his father's death, requesting an appointment on compassionate grounds. He went to the High Court since his request had been ignored. The BDA filed a lengthy statement of objections in response to the writ petition. Taking into account the BDA's objections, the single judge ordered the BDA to consider the petitioner's representation. Following that, the petitioner's representation was rejected by the BDA.
- The petitioner challenged the BDA's rejection decision, but the sole judge did not go so far as to assess the legitimacy of the BDA's rationale. The bench, on the other hand, came to the judgement that the BDA's refusal could not be faulted because the appellant's family had received a sum of Rs.33,63,465/- in terminal benefits, which had relieved the appellant's family of any suffering. An intra-court appeal was filed in response to this order.
Submission by Appellant
In view of the judgement rendered in the earlier round of litigation in W.P.No.38608/2017, Senior Advocate G.S. Kannur argued that BDA could not have proceeded to reject the appellant's claim on the basis that the appellant's father was not in service. He further said that once the dismissal order was set aside, the deceased employee was assumed to continue in service, especially since the Labour Court had also given Prakash continuity of service.
Furthermore, he argued that because the employee was believed to be in service, his death on March 18, 2014, should be treated as the death of an employee who died while on the job. It was also argued that He submitted that the learned Single Judge's reasoning on the receipt of monetary advantages was irrelevant to the case at hand. Receiving terminal benefits is not a gift given to an employee; rather, it is the consequence of the advantages that an employee has earned over a lengthy period of service to his employer. The need to offer an appointment on humanitarian grounds has nothing to do with the payment of terminal benefits.
BDA Opposed the Appeal
BDA's counsel, Advocate K. Krishna, argued that the learned Single Judge's order could not be faulted because it was founded on equitable grounds. Given the large sum of money the appellant's family had received as terminal benefits, the appellant could not be considered for appointment on compassionate grounds.
Court’s Observation and Order
To begin with, the court stated "The terms of the award became enforceable upon notification of the award, the order of dismissal was set aside upon the passing of the award, and because the workman was granted continuity of service, the employer-employee relationship was restored from the date of dismissal. As a result, the appellant's father would be considered to be in service on the day of the award, especially if the award was notified by the government. As a result, the BDA's claim regarding notification of the award is without merit and is dismissed."
It said "According to them, the BDA's entire approach to the problem is arbitrary and unreasonable. Prakash is deemed to have remained in service until he died in law, after the order of dismissal was overturned and he was directed to be reinstated with full back wages and continuity of service. The delay in communicating an award, which is effectively a ministerial act to allow for its implementation, would have no bearing on the fact that the relationship between the employer and the employee was restored under the Award."
The court therefore rejected the Single Judge's rationale that the appellant's family had received a large quantity of money as terminal benefits and thus were not in financial difficulty. "The appellant's family thus received money due to them as a result of an illegal act committed by the BDA by virtue of an award of the Labour Court, and this receipt of money awarded to them as a result of an illegal act could not be used against them for refusing any rights that they possessed for appointment on compassionate grounds," it said.
"They would like to reiterate that receipt of any terminal benefits cannot and should not be used as a yardstick to disqualify a dependent member of the family from seeking compassionate appointment, and that as long as there is a policy in place regarding compassionate appointment, the case of the dependents would have to be considered in accordance with the Rules," it concluded.
"It is to be borne in mind that the employer, in framing a policy for providing compassionate appointment, would be aware of the fact that the dependents of a deceased would receive financial benefits, and the employer had framed a policy only because it would be well aware that mere receipt of financial benefits would not by itself ameliorate the condition of the family of a deceased," it continued. It is for this reason that the policy for offering compassionate appointments does not preclude a dependent from requesting one just because the family is entitled to certain financial benefits as a result of the employee's death."
The Karnataka High Court has ruled that a dependant's right to a compassionate appointment is unaffected by the fact that the family is entitled to certain financial advantages as a result of the employee's death.
The receipt of any terminal benefits cannot and should not be used as a criterion for disqualifying a dependent family member from seeking compassionate appointment, and as long as there is a policy in place regarding compassionate appointment, the case of the dependents must be considered in accordance with the Rules, regardless of whether they have received any financial benefit.
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